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No Speculating: Spurrier Hits Morris With Both Barrels, Says He May “Head To The Beach”

On Saturday and Sunday, Steve Spurrier refused to take questions from the media covering his South Carolina football team.  On Monday, we suggested that Spurrier a) was feeling pretty good because he’s winning and that usually means he’ll do things other coaches won’t and b) was probably ticked at Columbia columnist Ron Morris — again — over a column he’d penned earlier in the week claiming that Steve Spurrier shouldn’t have played injured quarterback Connor Shaw against UAB.

On Wednesday, Morris responded with a column.  Yesterday, Spurrier refused to make peace and made it clear on WNKT-FM in Columbia that he and the South Carolina administration have had it up to here with Morris.

Our “speculation” on Monday that Spurrier was mad at Morris and feeling 10-feet-tall and bulletproof was met with a lot of angry words from a few Carolina fans.  Well, once again, this site was able to put two and two together long before any coach had to spell out matters word for word.  I’m sure the fact that we were correct will tick off a few people.  But they’ll get over it.  Mainly ’cause they’ll be cheering the comments their  head coach made during his weekly radio show:

 

“One of the local writers wrote another nasty article last week.  It was very negative and critical towards me.  It slandered my name and my integrity.  The guy is trying to tarnish and ruin my reputation as a coach.  That’s OK.  I don’t dislike this guy, I really don’t.  Because we all know who the guy is and that’s the kind of person he is…

I told my wife after the last article, ‘I’ve had it. I’ve had enough.  I’m not going to take it anymore.  I’ve had enough.’  Almost all of the Gamecocks say, ‘Coach, don’t pay any attention to him, he’s insignificant,’ which he is.  He is not an important person.  But they’re not having their name and reputation slandered.  So, I’m the one.  It’s not my mode of operation to not say anything about it.  So, this is my voice here.  He gets his voice in the newspaper, which he uses…

I think we need to make some changes. I think some positive changes are going to happen.  They have a little problem over there that we know about, but they’re working on it.  Our president and our athletic director, they’re all backing me in this.”

 

If Spurrier feels slandered, he has every right to use his own radio platform to say so.  As the coach states, Morris has his venue, Spurrier has his.  A winning coach versus the media?  You can guess who’s going to get the backing of the public on that one.

The only problem we had with Spurrier’s actions was his decision to punish every reporter trying to cover his team because he was upset with one columnist.  Turns out, that’s exactly what happened and we still think that was a childish move.  “Handle it man-to-man,” we said.  Yesterday, Spurrier did and there’s not a thing in the world wrong with that.

But then the coach went a little bit off the rails:

 

“Historically, around here at South Carolina, we’re in uncharted waters right now. We’re winning.  It used to be cool to try to trash and bash the head coach, from what I’ve learned.  But it’s not cool anymore.  I don’t think I have to put up with that anymore.”

 

Whoa.

Spurrier says he doesn’t have “to put up with that anymore.”  Meaning criticism?  Being slandered?  Meaning he can ban any media member who doesn’t write glowing things about him?  Meaning he’ll blast a writer right back when if he takes a shot at his integrity?

Depending on the coach’s meaning that statement could either be fine or ridiculous.

Many’s the time someone has come to this site’s comment boxes and anonymously told those of us here (who provide free information to them) that it’s fair game to rip us anonymously because we’re the ones who decided to go into the media.  Well, if that’s the case, then how is a coach making millions of dollars above criticism from a writer who actually puts his name to his column/commentary/criticism?

Here’s hoping Spurrier wasn’t trying to say that he’s now above all questions and critique.  We take vulgar comments and insults for free around here.  Surely Spurrier has a thick enough skin — to use some Carolina fans’ comments to us — to handle some criticism for a whopping three million bucks a year.

The coach continued:

 

“I believe our city is going to be better off because we’re all going to get along better.  That’s what it’s all about.  We’ve had some serious discussions about things.  Basically, I said I’m not taking any more of this stuff that’s coming out of our local paper anymore.  If that’s part of the job, I’ll head to the beach.  That’s not part of the job.  So, we’re going to get it straightened out.”

 

Again, it’s all about interpretation.  Does that comment mean Spurrier will “head to the beach” if any writer for any paper questions his decision-making?  Does that mean he’ll quit if he feels someone has attacked his integrity or tried to “trash” his name?  There’s a big difference between the two.

Does that mean that Spurrier told the USC administration that he’ll walk if they don’t back him?

Spurrier was A-OK to fire back at Morris via his own medium.  His later comments were a bit more fuzzy.  If he was trying to say he’ll fight fire with fire and might just quit if people assail his character, fine.  Quitting might be a bit of an overreaction, but that’s his call.  However, if he’s saying that he is above criticism and he’ll leave if anyone writes anything about him or his team that he doesn’t like, then he’s crossed over into that 10-feet-tall and bulletproof zone.

The President of the United States — be that person Barrack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, etc — gets ripped and vilified by Fox News or MSNBC every single day.  And the presidency is a much more important, much more difficult job than that of a football coach (even if it doesn’t pay as well).  If our country’s leader can be critiqued, why then can’t a football coach?

Here’s hoping Spurrier is simply referring to what he feels are character attacks.  (Though there’s some grey area there, too, as what’s viewed as an attack on integrity to one person might not be viewed as such by another.)

Ask anyone who’s ever covered Spurrier and you’ll find that his ego inflates and deflates with each victory and loss.  Even-keeled is not how many describe the man.  That’s not a knock, just a fact that can be learned by reading through his press conference transcripts over the years.  Heck, when some Carolina fans were on his back just two short years ago and he arrived at SEC Media Days bearing a 7-6 record from the previous season, you’d have thought someone had just run over his dog.  He was downright sullen.  We wrote on this site that it was sad to see a coach with such a tremendous track record for success feeling so down in the dumps.

But the last two years, the old Spurrier has returned.  Quick with a quip — sometimes pointed — and feisty as ever.  That’s part of the package.  If he’s your coach and he’s winning, you love it.  If he’s someone else’s coach, you hate it.  If you’re in the media, you just get used to it.

For that reason, here’s guessing that many folks in the Palmetto State will interpret Spurrier’s comments to mean he’ll just not put up with what he — and many fans — feel are character assassination attempts from The State’s Morris.

Everyone else is left to wonder if that’s indeed what the coach meant… or if he was saying that from now on, everyone has to be positive about his every decision or else he’ll quit.

It’s all about the interpretation.

 


19 comments
ChrisAllen1
ChrisAllen1

I like the article.  One small comment.  You Do Not provide free information to anyone, unless you remove all of the ads on this web page and any other sponsorship.  I'm sure you write out of the kindness of your heart, but the host here doesn't support you for free.

SeaBass
SeaBass

I'm from Tampa and spurrier coached with the USFL team the Tampa Bay Bandits.... He had a QB as his starter that had gone to the same college as he....UF....Reeves was his name and I don't care what he has accomplished in his life then or now....Because of what he did to this man and what he put out to the media about what he thought of him....Spurrier is and was the biggest Douche that I have ever seen or read about...!!! It was getting ridiculous what he would say or how he act when it came to how he handled the situation....It seems to me that he hasn't changed a bit...!!! By the way at that point in my life I had nothing against spurrier at all....!!! That said I am a Vols fan all my life and at that time as a football fan we all were excited about the new league and a new team in Tampa...!!! I also remember when he was at Duke after that how he made comments in the paper about UT before he played them....Then when it came to the game and when he lost...I remember the announcers making the comment about the coach trying to shake hands with spurrier and he wouldn't because he avoided the mid field meeting....The man doesn't know how to except things for how they are and be grown up about them....!!! Spurrier has said and made to many issues to except him as a gentleman or a sportsman to the game!!!

gator in san diego
gator in san diego

John, I am a big fan of this site and enjoy reading your work. In an effort to be an honest broker, I'll tell you up front that I was at UF when Spurrier won his national title, and I have a great respect for what he has accomplished in the world of football. So, you can already guess where I'm coming from. I understand your need to defend the media's right to have access to coaches and information. I could not agree with you more that a free and open press is one of the most important ingredients when it comes to keeping people and institutions accountable to the public interest. The rights conveyed in the first amendment are listed first for a reason. That is not what's at stake here.

 

However, I think you've lost your objectivity when it comes to Spurrier. Your article on the 24th contains mostly jabs about the man then offers up in closing that the reason he's not talking to the media might be because he's upset with Morris. Do you honestly believe that whipping Missouri and having a #6 ranking would put Spurrier in such a foul mood that he no longer wants to speak to the media?

 

Of course he's irritated with Morris. I read Morris column. What he postulates is reasonable. Reasonable for discussion at a tailgate party. What is not reasonable is that he didn't do any of the things required to turn speculation into objective journalism before putting it into print.

 

Writing a piece on a coach that implies that he puts winning ahead of player welfare is fine, but you had better have some solid evidence. Pedestrian observations about a game performance or quoting some material from a press release can be accomplished by anyone that can use google and type. What Morris wrote was better suited for a blog than a newspaper. We know Morris was not a party to the decision about Shaw. It's a safe bet that no one involved in the decision making process spoke to him. So his information is third-hand at best. Anyone can pick up third hand information using an internet search. I can do it on my smartphone during a bathroom break at work.

 

What I can't understand is why you keep defending Morris. Your article on Friday puts forth a straw man argument that Spurrier declares that he can no longer be criticized. Did you call or email Spurrier for clarification of his remarks? Anyone who knows what Morris wrote last October, when taken together with his recent column can come to the conclusion that Spurrier has had enough of the guy and he feels like he shouldn't have to put up with it. Given Morris's history with Spurrier, I think he has burned up whatever credibility he has left when it comes to reporting on Spurrier's teams. He should probably steer clear of the topic altogether. Given the nature of the topic in Morris's column, and the underlying accusation, he should probably make sure he has more than a "theory" if he's going to make his observations public.

 

From reading your three articles on this situation, and how you've responded to some of the posters, it looks like you're emotionally invested in this situation. You had a similar approach to the situation last October. I could understand your point of view last year. I do not understand it now. I think you are guilty of taking the same approach to defending a fellow journalist that you accuse die-hard SC ad Spurrier fans of taking when it comes to their coach. Bringing up PSU is not helping your point at all. I don't know if you're Morris's drinking buddy, schoolmate or just a colleague, but you should probably take your own advice and talk to Morris behind closed doors about the quality of his work and avoid defending him publicly.

Mark1984
Mark1984

(I'm a life long UGA fan.)  So you are comparing the president, who rarely, if ever, has a  press conference, who also has a guy that spins the media for the president, to a coach who has to answer questions weekly?  Really?  The media is wrong on this one.  The guy attacked SOS integrity.  It was bad manners and bad reporting   If this is what reporting has come to, why not just write for the national enquiror.

Droppingin
Droppingin

First, I am a Gator and very used to SOS. He is also as honest as honest can be. I love him and route for USC in all but one game per year. I would take him back any time.

 

Criticism is one thing, attacking integrity is another. I  hope you folks can do something about this geek, Morris. 

Gamecock
Gamecock

People nationally will see this differently than those locally.  People nationally do not understand the contempt and agenda Morris has had against Carolina over the years.  Like it or not, media has power.  And when power goes to the media's head (for those of you who think power is gone to Spurrier's head), then it becomes irresponsible and wrong.  Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from responsibility.  And when a local writer with an irresponsible agenda influences the national perspective of someone locally, that's when it's fine to step in by the one getting unfairly attacked.  That is all that is happening here.  Spurrier is fine with criticism of his coaching.  Questioning his honesty and integrity with no facts, just opinion, crosses the line.  And is irresponsible.  Which defines Morris.

phrogs4ever
phrogs4ever

No serious person believes that they're above criticism, and certainly not a head coach of a major college football program. Morris's column was not about criticism. Questioning a coaches's decision to start a player and bringing up the Penn State program in the same discussion is irresponsible and borderline slanderish. Morris has a track record of this sort of thing. Last year he fabricated information in order to support a story about the football coach back-dooring the basketball coach to gain access to a basketball player. Both coaches stated publicly that there was no back-dooring at all. Journalists like controversy, especially when it involves a successful institution or person. What qualifications does Morris have? The only qualifications to write fiction are literacy and access to a computer.

MoKelly1
MoKelly1

From someone who doesn't have a dog in this fight, Coach Spurrier reminds me very much of Tony LaRussa. He was very successful as the manager of the Cardinals, but often got quite mad and would pout at the media for daring to ask questions about his game strategy or which players he decided to use in various situations. Both are proud and successful men who seem to believe mere sports writers or columnists have no business or qualifications to question their moves or decisions. Neither seem able to let criticism roll off their backs --- but rather want to prove in public that they are the boss.

GAPITCREW
GAPITCREW

Spurrier sounds more whiny than ever.  Morris comparison to Penn State became only more relevant when he threatened to go to the beach or basically saying that he is so childish that he cannot handle criticism.  He had options, he stands at a podium and could have answered Morris's accusation with sound logic, but apparently there is none.  He cares only about Shaw can do for him.

guest001
guest001

I start this out with a disclaimer. I went to Florida in the 90's and Spurrier is right close to God in my eyes. I think if MoRon would have started his article out with the a little disclaimer stating what he knew and what he didn't know, then gave his analysis for not playing Connor, we may not be having so much fun with this public sparring between Spurrier and Morris. Spurrier took the article as attacking his integrity... playing an injured player, so that the Gamecocks could get a W in win column.

 

That said... I think every time one of these guys opens their mouth, the other guy looks like the winner. I thought Spurrier was wining the fight when MoRon compared the Penn State situation to the one in Columbia. I think MoRon is winning now that Spurrier is smarting about the situation is going to be corrected. If Spurrier knows something that we do not, he should have kept it close to the vest. It will only make him look cry babyish when and if MoRon is told to walk.

 

At the end of the day Spurrier wins this. The higher ups in Columbia saw what happens when Foley did not back Spurrier in the Ernest Graham - Florida State debacle. He will walk. And I can guarantee you the, nothing would make the Arkansas and Kentucky's out there happier than to see the adminsration not back Spurrier on this.  

 

John, I do appreciate your views on the situation, because I enjoy your page.

 

Thanks for your continued thoughts on this situation. 

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

I still think Steve is living proof the movie Big is based on fact. Exactly when is the "All Steve, Steve All the Time and Fun Facts About Steve Channel," going to start?

 

You are now entering Steveville, population 1

Mayor - Steve

Police Chief - Steve

City Commissioner - Steve

Fire Commissioner - Certainly Not Steve

 

Please drive carefully, the life you safe just might be Steve.

 

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

From a Georgia perspective, this is popcorn worthy entertainment.

guest001
guest001

 @MoKelly1I do not agree with your thought. The two articles that Spurrier has taken offense to are the two articles MoRon made up facts. Last year MoRon made up the fact that Spurrier met with Ellington prior to Ellington telling the basketball coaches he was interested in playing football. The article last week took a shot at Spurriers integrity. Playing a hurt football player at the expense of his health, so that the ole ball coach could get another W. The problem with the article is MoRon did not have all the facts. He did not know what the doctors analysis. He just made the statement on the blind. Part of that is not MoRon's fault, college coaches arenot required to tell the media types the extent of injuries.

Gamecock
Gamecock

Like I said above, people nationally will see this different than people locally.  Spurrier is just voicing the opinion so many of us here in Columbia have had about Morris for so long.  Spurrier has said he is not above criticism and has no problem with being criticized for his coaching and such.  But unfounded attacks on character (Morris' M.O. with Spurrier) is irresponsible.

 

I think it's funny that when media says anything, they are fine and ok...because they are media.  But when someone stands up to irresponsible, agenda-driven media, they are whiny.  Ha, no, they are taking a stand.

cofc13
cofc13

"From a Georgia perspective, this is popcorn worthy entertainment."As a Gamecock fan, I see your point.  And to be honest, I'm a little jealous of your position as an outsider.

Gamecocksince89
Gamecocksince89

I'm gonna take Spurrier to win this one. The administration and the fans will back Spurrier big time. Ron messed up when he said USC and Penn St. in the same sentence on national radio. Tanner has also had problems with Ron as baseball coach and now as the AD, he has more power to fight back. Previously Eric Hyman just let it go.

gamecock999
gamecock999

 @guest001  @MoKelly1 Actually, the problem with MORON, a man with a histrionic, narcissitic personality defect, did know the facts.  He nevertheless intentionally published his article knowing it was false.  The editors of The State were also complicit, but MORON was the instigator.  The individual admits to keeping a persona journal about Spurrier, and to following him around for most of Spurrier's coaching career.  He has a deep, illogical and abiding hatred of Spurrier that borders on insane.  This is not a regular columnist writing a column questioning clock management or something. This is a much deeper problem.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @Gamecocksince89 

 

The fact that South Carolina's AD is an ex-coach himself is an excellent point that I decided to leave on the cutting room floor as it would have taken the above post in a different direction and made it even longer.

 

Many thanks for reading... and for working that nugget into the conversation.

 

An ex-coach will definitely have a more anti-press view than an AD who viewed PR as a top priority.  I think you're point's a good one.

 

Again, thanks for visiting,

John

gamecock999
gamecock999

 @John at MrSEC  @Gamecocksince89 You should go read some of the garbage MORON wrote about Tanner.  To give you a taste, he said Tanner was hurting his pitchers by throwing them too many innings. Same kind of crap as the latest lie about Spurrier.  Look into some of this before you decide Spurrier is off base.  He also gave credit for Tanner's first National Championship to his buddy, our ex-AD, Eric Hyman, now at Texas A&M.  (Good riddance as far as I'm concerned.)

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